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Handheld Games News

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Sony back in black with PlayStation as PS4 outperforms competition at retail

3 comments Leo Chan - 11:28am (PST) Like Share

Losing money on hardware was so last-gen

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It's a fine return to form for the PlayStation brand as Sony confirms its video game business achieved profitability during the first quarter of its current financial year. Indeed, the strong performance of games and movies allowed the electronics and console giant as a whole to surprise analysts and naysayers alike with net income of 26.8 billion yen ($261 million USD) for the three month period ended June 30th, a 757 percent year-over-year increase in profit.

Sony's Games & Network Services segment (in charge of all things PlayStation) managed to swing back to profit of 4.3 billion yen ($41.8 million) compared to the 16.4 billion yen ($159.5 million) loss it suffered during the first quarter of last fiscal year. Quarterly revenue also rose nearly 96 percent to 257.5 billion yen ($2.5 billion USD).

The ongoing success of the PS4 at retail no doubt its played its part this reversal of fortunes for Sony's gaming business. The company managed to sell an estimated 3.5 million PS4 and PS3 consoles combined this past quarter, in addition to a combined total of 750,000 PS Vitas, PSPs and PS Vita TVs. Software sales meanwhile reached 85 million units across all PlayStation platforms.

Sony's PlayStation business is doing the company so proud that it's one of the few divisions that it believes will exceed expectations by the end of its current financial year. The company has revised both its sales and profit forecasts for the Games & Network Services segment upward to 1.24 trillion yen ($12 billion) and 25 billion yen ($243 million), respectively. This will likely be a bright spot Sony needs come March 31st 2015, as it is still bracing for a companywide annual loss of 50 billion yen ($486.5 million).

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Mario Kart 8 fails to pull Nintendo out of quarterly loss, as Wii U hardware sales remain sluggish

22 comments Leo Chan - 11:53am (PST) Like (1) Share

Nintendo posts nearly $100 million USD in loss despite Mario Kart's global success

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In spite of newfound optimism that arose from the early retail success of titles like Mario Kart 8 and Tomodachi Life, Nintendo's first quarterly earnings report for its current fiscal year unfortunately confirm yet another round of both operating and net losses.

For the three month period ended June 30th, 2014, NIntendo's net sales dropped 8.4 percent year-over-year to 74.7 billion yen ($731.5 million USD). The console giant would post a net loss of 9.9 billion yen ($96.9 million USD), a terrible change of fortune from the 8.6 billion yen in net income it managed to report for the same period last fiscal year.

To be sure, Mario Kart 8 was no slouch with 2.82 million copies sold worldwide (physical and digital combined) just one month after launch, with 885,000 units attributed to the US alone on account of strong retail performance. It's as fine a showing as any Wii U title could ask for at this point, spurring Wii U hardware sales to a modest (but not spectacular) 510,000 units for the three-month reporting period ended June 30th.

A lack of other hit Wii U titles no doubt contributed to poor growth in the platform's hardware sales, which in turn would drag the company back down to quarterly loss. Yet Nintendo maintains that Mario Kart 8's success has set the stage for a new and improved Wii U software lineup this year. The company for the time being is sticking with its annual Wii U sales forecast of 3.6 million consoles, which means it's really expecting hardware sales to seriously ramp up come this holiday season.

The 3DS fared far better for Nintendo with 820,000 handhelds sold during the console giant's first quarter, but unlike the Wii U this actually represented a year-over-year decline from the 1.4 million 3DSes sold during the same timeframe last year.

Fortified with an upcoming lineup of titles which include Super Smash Bros. on both 3DS and Wii U, Hyrule Warriors, and Bayonetta 2, as well as a shot at the potentially lucrative toys-to-life market this holiday season with amiibo, Nintendo believes the pieces are still in place for it to bounce back to a net income of an estimated 20 billion yen ($194.5 million USD) for the current fiscal year ending March 31st, 2015.


Sony preparing new round of free digital content for customers affected by 2011 PSN data breach

14 comments Leo Chan - 12:07pm (PST) Like Share (1)

Nearing settlement in class action lawsuit over PSN data breach

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Sony is hoping to pull itself from the shadow of a long-running class action lawsuit by agreeing to offer $15 million USD worth of free digital content to all PlayStation Network account holders in the U.S. affected by 2011's crippling PSN security breach.

This compensation is intended to serve as the preliminary settlement to the lawsuit filed against Sony in the U.S. District Court of Southern California following a cyber-attack on the electronics giant's PSN service back in April 2011 which saw the personal data of some 77 million PSN accounts compromised and the service shut down for nine weeks. The lawsuit itself was ultimately a consolidation of no less than 50 similar class action lawsuits.

Should this settlement earn the court's final approval, Sony will prepare a variety free benefits for customers affected by the security breach. In addition to reimbursing up to $2,500 USD to individual customers who can prove they were victims of identify theft as a direct result of a compromised PSN account (up to a total of $1 million across all claims), Sony will offer affected PSN account holders a choice of one of the following:

  • A free PS3 OR PSP game from a list of 14 titles
  • A set of thre PS3 themes from a list of six
  • A three month subscription to PlayStation Plus

These rewards are first-come, first-serve and will be valid until it hits total value hits $4 million. Compromised PSN account holders who didn't participate in Sony's "Welcome Back" reward campaign are entitled to two of the above three reward tiers, and are similarly on a first-come basis up to a cap of $6 million.

Customers who held a Sony Online Entertainment account during the breach are elibigle for 450 points of Station Cash (equivalent to $4.50 USD) good for all supporting titles, while account holders of the (now-defunct) Qriocity service can score a free month of its successor, Music Unlimited.

Eligible account holders are expected to be contacted via email in the future with instructions on how to claim your benefits.


June NPD Number Crunch: Hardware sales grow 106 percent as PS4 continues outselling Xbox One

5 comments Leo Chan - 4:27pm (PST) Like Share

Watch Dogs, Mario Kart 8 also keep holding the checkered flag high

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The NPD Group's monthly report card for U.S. retail sales is in, and June 2014 was looking good with sales up 24 percent year-over-year. Total sales at retail rang in at around $736.4 million USD, with console hardware sales up a whopping 106 percent to $292.7 million. So much for momentum slowing down for the PS4 and Xbox One even months after launch.

While we can imagine the new, lower pricing for the Xbox One (which brings it in line with the PS4) played its part in spurring hardware sales to the impressive level reported, Microsoft's console still couldn't dethrone Sony's PS4 which by NPD's reckoning remained the bestselling home console for last month. NPD analyst Liam Callahan confirms that sales for both platforms combined were 80 percent higher than their predecessors.

Monthly software sales dropped slightly by 3 percent year-over-year to $286.8 million on account of a lack of performing software following the launch of Watch Dogs and Mario Kart 8 back in May. Both titles maintained their lead over all other titles at retail last month; Nintendo confirms that 470,000 copies of Mario Kart 8 sold last month (digital and physical combined), which certainly suggests that sales for Watch Dogs are just as impressive. It's worth noting that Watch Dogs' sales factored multiple platforms, so Mario Kart 8 would actually be the top-selling title for June on a single platform.

New releases like EA Sports UFC and Tomodachi Life also made a decent accounting for themselves. FIFA 14 also makes a fine comeback to the software top ten, no doubt thanks to World Cup 2014 fever.

June 2014 Top Ten Software Sales
  Game Publisher Platform Release
1. Watch Dogs Ubisoft PS4 / Xbox One / PS3 / Xbox 360 / PC 05/2014
2. Mario Kart 8 Nintendo Wii U 05/2014
3. Minecraft Microsoft Game Studios / Sony Computer Entertainment Xbox 360 / PS3 05/2014
4. EA Sports UFC Electronic Arts PS4 / Xbox One 06/2014
5. FIFA 14 Electronic Arts PS4 / PS3 / Xbox One / Xbox 360 / Vita 09/2013
6. NBA 2K14 2K Games PS4 / Xbox One / PS3 / Xbox 360 / PC 10/2013
7. Wolfenstein: The New Order Bethesda Softworks PS4 / Xbox One / PS3 / Xbox 360 / PC 05/2014
8. Call of Duty: Ghosts Activision PS4 / Xbox One / PS3 / Xbox 360 / Wii U / PC 11/2013
9. Tomodachi Life Nintendo 3DS 06/2014
10. Grand Theft Auto V Take 2 Interactive PS3 / Xbox 360 09/2013

Bravely Default explores free-to-play on Japanese eShop

8 comments Leo Chan - 12:21pm (PST) Like (1) Share

It's like a long demo that's just long enough to whet your appetite (or sate it)

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Square Enix reveals it will release a special free-to-play version of its bestselling Bravely Default RPG on the Japanese eShop beginning this July 28th. The free download version of Bravely Default: For the Sequel will basically include the first four chapters of the retail game. To experience the rest of Bravely Default and its features, players can then opt to purchase and download an "update kit" for 2,000 yen (~$20 USD).

Bravely Default joins other titles like Steel Diver as free-to-play releases on the 3DS, further underlining interest in exploring the "freemium" business model on the handheld platform. At the very least, it's a heckuva way to raise awareness over the upcoming (actual) sequel, Bravely Second.


Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata will continue ruling with an iron fist, as decreed by shareholders

10 comments Leo Chan - 11:06am (PST) Like (1) Share

Company shareholders re-elect Iwata as President and CEO at annual meet

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Nintendo's Satoru Iwata remains firmly entrenched as President and CEO, having been re-elected by shareholders at the company's 74th annual general meeting (AGM) yesterday. The current nine members of Nintendo's board of directors (which include game designer Shigeru Miyamoto) also retain their positions, and in fact welcomes a new member in Corporate Auditor Naoki Mizutani.

The executive has faced a plummeting approval rating from investors compared to the rest of Nintendo's board, no doubt in light of slow Wii U sales and annual losses which have plagued the company for three years straight. Yet Nintendo walked away from E3 2014 looking sharp, and Mario Kart 8's global sales have also proven to be encouraging factors which could set the stage for improvement.

For at least another year, Iwata will have the opportunity to oversee Nintendo try to return to some semblance of profitability and reinvigorate business through new initiatives like amiibo and the curious "quality of life" platfrom.

As reported earlier, Iwata himself had to miss out on the AGM while he recovers from his recent bile duct surgery.


Nintendo goes steampunk with Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.

9 comments Leo Chan - 7:33pm (PST) Like Share

Independence Day meets H.P. Lovecraft meets Abraham Lincoln

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Nintendo pulled the wraps off its secret 3DS project behind closed doors at its E3 developer discussion, called Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. It's a third-person strategy RPG developed by Intelligent Systems (Fire Emblem) featuring a dash of shooting action. Initial reactions compared the title to Valkyria Chronicles on PlayStation platforms, and while Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.'s lead developer is a fan of Sega's celebrated series, there's less emphasis on shooting.

Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. begins in a steampunk-inspired London, England, after H.P. Lovecraft-inspired aliens have attacked our fair planet. You command a special task force assembled by 16th U.S. president Abraham Lincoln to combat this otherworldly menace in turn-based strategy, where the actions you perform each term depend on the amount of steam of you have.

The art direction is said to be inspired by the Silver Age of American comics, with the legendary artist Jack Kirby said to be a major influence. Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. is currently due for a 2015 release, and will include online multiplayer. Intelligent Systems also noted that development on the anticipated Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem crossover title hasn't been affected as a result of Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.

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Pac-Man launches an old school attack on Super Smash Bros. to sate his hunger

66 comments Leo Chan - 9:19pm (PST) Like (2) Share

Relax, this is the version without creepy human-like eyes

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Were you not entertained with confirmation of Palutena and your custom Mii taking to the mean streets of Super Smash Bros. land? Like a thunderbolt from a clear sky, Smash Bros. producer Masahiro Sakurai revealed one more playable character at the Super Smash Bros. Developer Roundtable held at E3 today: Pac-Man.

Yes, Namco's classic arcade character and pop culture icon of the 1980's is the next third-party guest to cross worlds in pursuit of his own Final Destination. With Bandai Namco helping to develop the upcoming Smash Bros. games, it certainly wasn't out of the question for the Pac to make a red carpet appearance.

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Palutena crushes your Mii (and everyone else) beneath her heel in Super Smash Bros.

57 comments Leo Chan - 10:10am (PST) Like Share

Update Now with official screens!

Nintendo's "one more thing" reveal at the end of their E3 Digital Event briefing was a new playable Super Smash Bros. character, a reveal so majestic it had its own anime trailer. Kid Icarus' benevolent goddess Palutena herself is finally confirmed to grace our miserable souls with her glorious presence on the battlefield. So glorious is she that Palutena can get away with announcing every_single_one of her attacks which include rocket jumps, black holes, mega lasers and reflector fields.

And when we say "our" miserable souls, we can indeed make it so. Super Smash Bros. producer Masahiro Sakurai earlier in the show confirmed that Mii is also a playable brawler for the upcoming Super Smash Bros. titles for Wii U and 3DS. And by Mii, I mean you. And me. You'll be able to create your own Mii brawler, then have it adopt one of three fighting classes.

Your Mii enters the ring as a Brawler, Swordfighter, or Gunner. The Brawler attacks up close with fisticuffs and fancy footwork, the Swordfighter (naturally) brings a sword to a Fire Flower fight, while the Gunner uses an arm cannon to blast the bejeezus outta everyone. Each variety of Mii brawler can choose four special moves to bring to battle from a pool of 12 (a total of 36 Mii exclusive moves).

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The chimes of Yasogami High promise death this fall 2014 in Persona Q's first English trailer

4 comments Leo Chan - 2:35pm (PST) Like Share

Built on an Etrian Odyssey dungeon, with Shadows & those rare Hand thingys

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Nintendo's official Youtube channel releases the first official English trailer for Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, confirming a fall 2014 release timeframe for the upcoming 3DS spin-off that sees the worlds of Persona 3 and 4 collide.

It's a new adventure starring your favorite characters from both titles, built on a framework of the Etrian Odyssey dungeon crawling titles complete with an option to draw out the labyrinth maps yourself, because you're hardcore enough for it. Once that track in the trailer starts blazing though, you won't mistake it for anything but a modern Persona game.

We still don't know exactly how months away Persona Q will be, but it will also be available as an eShop download for those of you who like staying up late to catch Teddie on the Midnight Channel.